Join In August 20th in Whistler Blackcomb for the 2016 Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival

Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival

Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival

What’s Cheese Rolling, You Ask?

It’s when a flock of Canadians chases an 11-pound wheel of cheese – slipping, tripping, and tumbling towards the finish line. The first one across gets the cheese + 2 ski season passes to Whistler Blackcomb. You can race valiantly or simply take in the action, but one way or another get ready for an incredible day!

Wear Your Cheesiest Costume

Don a big smile with your silliest costume and you could win one of 3 fantastic prizes including gift cards from local restaurants, gift baskets from sponsors, and more! Costume contest host and Just for Laughs comedian Ivan Decker will reward the best individual, team, and child costumes. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Get a Taste of Canadian Cheese

Explore the wonderful variety of cheeses Canada has to offer at theCanadian Cheese Market, discover pairing tips and tricks at a cheese seminar with expert David Beaudoin, and try fabulous new recipes featuring Canadian cheese at a cooking class with Chef Ned Bell.

Attend the Après Cheese Party

When all the races are over and the 2016 Cheese Champions have been crowned, head on over to Black’s Pub & Restaurant for the Après Cheese Party.

Treat yourself to a special selection of dishes featuring mouth-watering Canadian cheeses while you enjoy the spectacular view. And if you’re one of many lucky attendees, you may go home with some amazing prizes and giveaways!

Event Details

Saturday, August 20th, 2016 – 11am – 4pm

Whistler Blackcomb, BC (view map)

REGISTERING FOR THE RACE

To race with other grown-ups, teens, or kids, you can register for FREE starting at 11:00 am at the festival entrance (where you exit the Excalibur Gondola). Come early as it’s first-come, first-served. (Protective gear will be provided.)

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Abbotsford Harvest Dinner setting at Mt Lehman Winery

Abbotsford Harvest Dinner – Wine, Beer, Main Dishes and Dessert

Circle Farm TourMany of us aspire to the 100 mile diet.  Keeping our food local.  Supporting our farmers.  But here in Vancouver, have you considered that those farmers, might be a 30-45 minute drive away in Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley?  I was invited as part of the Circle Farm Tour to experience an Abbotsford Harvest Dinner, and was pleasantly surprised by the bounty of food, wine and beer that is available.

The dinner starting with chatting and sampling local beer from Ravens Brewing Company.  This brewery just opened earlier this year and collaborates with local growers and suppliers to craft artisan beer.  I tried their English Dark Mild.  It was indeed dark, with a charcoal and dark malt flavour to it, but not too heavy, so that you can enjoy more food and wine.

The dishes we enjoyed were:

  • Campbell’s Gold honey roasted, local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt. Lehman Cheese (appetizer)
  • Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips (appetizer)
  • Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade (entree)
  • Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions (entree)
  • Roasted local beets and parsnips (entree)
  • Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms (entree)
  • Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote (dessert)
  • Onnink’s chocolate blueberry bonbons (dessert)

I must say that it was nice to meet, or have the farmers from Abbotsford introduce themselves to us as we sat at a beautifully set table in the barrel room of Mt. Lehman Winery.  Thanks also to Chef Jeff Massey from Restaurant 62 who prepared all these dishes for us.

The farmers supplying our food and drink are:

The dishes come from fresh ingredients from the vegetables, to the pork, chicken and duck.  A few standout dishes for me were first the honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.  Creamy sweetness from the squash, with creaminess from the cheese and a bit of crunch from the pumpkin seeds.  The Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon was also outstanding for me.  The bacon comes from Lepp, and is smoked by them.  No artificially aged bacon here.  The flavour of the bacon was really outstanding and makes you think about the industrial bacon you buy in grocery stores.  No comparison.  If you have never tried roasted beets, give them a try.  I really like the earthiness of the beets.  And the blueberry bonbons are also a very tasty way to end dessert.  Good quality chocolate mixed with blueberries.  You cannot go wrong with this combination.  All the dishes were very good, and I present to you pictures of these dishes for your visual consumption below.  If any of this food or wine sparks your interest, drive out to Abbotsford and buy from these farmers.

I must especially thank winery owner Vern Siemens for opening bottles of every white and red wine I think they make, for us to experiment and pair with all the dishes at our Abbotsford Harvest dinner.  I in particular liked Mt. Lehman’s Pinot Noir and Unoaked Chardonnay, and felt they made good pairings with many dishes.

Mt Lehman Unoaked Chardonnay Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Merlot Reserve wines

Mt Lehman Unoaked Chardonnay Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Merlot Reserve wines

Ravens Brewing Company English Dark Mild beer

Ravens Brewing Company English Dark Mild beer

Campbells Gold honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt Lehman Cheese

Campbell’s Gold honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt Lehman Cheese

Maple Hills Farm's chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips

Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips

Roasted local beets and parsnips

Roasted local beets and parsnips

Yarrow Meadows' duck breast with balsamic pearl onions

Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions

Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Lepp Farm Market's pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade

Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade

Birchwood Dairy's vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries' goji berry compote

Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote

 

Vancouver Foodsters Mac and Cheese Challenge on Now!

For those of you who loved Mac and Cheese as a child, but are now grown up and need an adult version of Mac and Cheese, try out Vancouver Foodster’s latest challenge.  As I viewed some of the presentations below, I think a glass of wine would be the right pairing.  A Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc, or maybe a Riesling could work in many cases.  Press release is below.

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Vancouver, BC –After a successful poutine challenge comes more comfort food and the focus on the noodle, here is our 1st Mac & Cheese Challenge featuring 10 restaurants in Vancouver that runs from March 20 – April 10, 2014.

Participating restaurants are showcasing Mac & Cheese dishes that were specially created just for this challenge and all will be offered in all of these restaurants from March 20 – April 10. Some of the restaurants have offered their own twists using different types of noodles, while others have added different types of ingredients and flavours, one of which used a local craft beer.

Starting with this challenge, we will now have 2 sets of winners. The People’s Choice winners will be selected by the public who are invited to visit any of the participating restaurants and order the Mac & Cheese dishes and then decide on which ones they think are worthy of winning the challenge by casting their votes.

For this challenge we have 4 media judges and they are:

Cassandra Anderton
Writer and Broadcaster for many publications including her own http://goodlifevancouver.com
twitter: @goodlifevan
Sean Neild
Food Blogger and Photographer. Food Writer for the Eat St. blog on Food Network.ca  and his own flavortownadventures.com
twitter: @YVRBCbro
Thor Diakow
Breakfast Television’s entertainment guru on City in Vancouver.
twitter:@thordiakow
Sherman Chan
Food Blogger for his own shermansfoodadventures.com
twitter: @Sherman38

These are just some of the unique Mac and Cheese dishes in this challenge

Burgundy Restaurant

Stewie's Cheesey Adventure

Stewie’s Cheesey Adventure

Stewie’s Cheesey Adventure

Price: $14

Created by: Chef Stewart Ehrecke

Description: Fresh Macaroni, goat gouda, parmesan, garlic cream reduction, panko crust, tomato chutney

 

Milestones Grill & Bar

Howe Sound my Orecchiette?

Howe Sound my Orecchiette?

Howe Sound my Orecchiette?

Price: $8

Created by: Chef Jason Rosso

Description: Chorizo and double smoked bacon in a creamy cheddar cheese and beer sauce. Featuring Vancouver’s own Howe Sound IPA.

Gramercy Grill

Hoisin Duck Confit Mac & Cheese

Hoisin Duck Confit Mac & Cheese

Hoisin Duck Confit Mac & Cheese

Price: $14

Created by: Chef Dennis Huang

White cheddar Macaroni & Cheese with a topping of five spice, star anise, hoisin duck confit with green onion

Lift Bar & Grill

Ocean Wise Crab Mac & cheese

Ocean Wise Crab Mac & Cheese

Ocean Wise Crab Mac & Cheese

Price: $12.00

Created by: Chef George Koay

Fresh West Coast Ocean Wise Dungeness Crab Meat with Macaroni and Fresh Mascarpone and Podano Cheeses. Topped with Panko bread crumbs.

The full list of participating restaurants can be found here
http://vancouverfoodster.com/2014/03/20/vancouver-mac-cheese-challenge/

Voting: The public is invited to order these Mac and Cheese dishes at the participating restaurants keeping in mind this criteria – originality, creativity, uniqueness, traditional, non-traditional, price, value and most importantly taste. People can vote the same day after trying the Mac & Cheese creation and they can vote once a day throughout the promotion. People will be encouraged to Vote for their favourites from March 20 – April 10, 2014
http://vancouverfoodster.com/mac-and-cheese-challenge/

With a smartphone, customers will be able to vote from their table in the restaurant right after they have eaten the Mac and Cheese creation. 

We will announce the winning restaurants and their mac and cheese dishes on April 11, 2014.

TASTE Resto-Lounge Opens Downtown – Food, Art, Music

Taste Resto Lounge chandelier and bar

Taste Resto Lounge chandelier and bar

Last week was the opening of TASTE Resto Lounge at 560 Seymour Street, in downtown Vancouver. It is next door to the nightclub, FIVESIXTY, so you may want to have a nibble here before dancing the night away.

On this evening we were served mini versions of the share plate menu items. Upon entering TASTE, you are struck by the red glass chandeliers, giving a Gothic or Bordello type atmosphere, depending on who you ask. At the back of the room is a long table, where you can sit with your friends, and make new friends, while you eat and drink, and view the featured artists’ paintings on the walls.

Sharing Plates Samples

Charcuterie at TASTE Resto Lounge

Charcuterie at TASTE Resto Lounge

We were given tastings of:

  • charcuterie, with a mix of sausages, prosciutto, capicollo, artisanal cheese, and sweet pickled beets
  • house smoked chicken liver pate with capicollo, pickled beets, pesto, onion marmalade on a crostini
  • bacon chutney with pear and brie stack and a chimmichurri sauce on a crostini
  • a salad of roma tomatoes, fresh Bocconcini with diced cucumber and white balsamic pesto

I think my favourite item was the chicken liver pate.  Lots of flavour, and paired nice with a glass of prosecco.  All of the ingredients, I was told, are local and organic by Executive Chef Renaldo Decembrini.

Wine and Other Drinks

The wine list has a range of wines from around the world, but BC wines were missing.  It would be nice to add in one white and one red in the list.  The food and wine list were designed to be complementary and they have some selections with food and wine pairings on a chalk board beside the long table in the back of TASTE.

On the white wine side, you can enjoy a glass of Marisco the Ned Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, full of herbal character, and have with a salad.  The Canti Prosecco as I mentioned to go with the chicken liver pate. Try the Fritz Riesling or the Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc with the charcuterie.

There are 2 Argentinean Malbecs to choose; Pascual Toso  and Dona Paula. I did have a sip of the Marques de la Mancha Tempranillo, very full bodied, lots of dark fruit and very smooth and silky. Definitely would pair nicely with the charcuterie or their house smoked beef tenderloin.

In addition, there are some BC/Canadian beers on tap.  They also invented some cocktails that are meant to pair with their share plates.  I did not have a chance to try these, but maybe on my next visit.

I wish TASTE Resto-Lounge the best of luck in their launch.

Charcuterie menu at TASTE

Charcuterie menu at TASTE

salad of roma tomatoes Bocconcini and cucumber

Salad of roma tomatoes, Bocconcini, and cucumber

TASTE chalk board recommendations

TASTE chalk board recommendations

Enjoying Blasted Church – Sip + Savour

Image Courtesy Fairmont Herons Restaurant

Wine and cheese.  Always an enjoyable time when paired together.  Today I looked forward to going to Herons Restaurant in Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in downtown Vancouver to try a flight of wines from Blasted Church winery and a pairing of cheeses from The Farm House Natural Cheeses and cheese from the Kootenays and from Salt Spring Island. You too can enjoy Sip + Savour because it takes place daily from 2pm to 5pm (excluding Sundays) at a cost of just $35.95.

Mark Wendenburg with a bottle of Blasted Church wine

Walking into Herons, I looked for an empty wine glass and a table with some wines to taste.  With my luck, the table I picked had the new wine maker from Blasted Church, Mr. Mark Wendenburg, pouring wine. Mark Wendenburg left Sumac Ridge Winery after working with them for18 years. Mark was a born and raised Penticton, and has travelled around the world, getting trained in Germany, and then making wines in New Zealand and Australia before settling back in the Okanagan. Mark is a very friendly person and I enjoyed speaking with him for a long time about wine making style, terroir, and more.

White Wines

The white wines I tasted were all fresh and fruit forward. Perfect for the summer, which I am told should arrive soon!

Pinot Gris 2010 ($19.99). I was told by Mark that their Pinot Gris always has a bit of Viognier blended in. This vintage had 8% added to the Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour.  Light peach and apple aromas.  High acidity but still round mouth feel. Medium body.  Flavours of ripe tropical fruits.

Blasted Church Pinot Gris on ice

Chardonnay Musque 2010 ($17.99). The Chardonnay Musque grape is a unique clone of Chardonnay that was pioneered in the Niagara Peninsula by Château des Charmes’ founder Paul Bosc. It has the Muscat character, which is very aromatic and an aroma of oranges.  This wine was pale lemon in colour. Very aromatic of oranges and flowers. Medium body, dry and medium acidity.  Juicy fruits of lemon and tropical fruit on the palate, also a bit of vanilla.  A nice long, dry finish.

Mixed Blessings 2010 ($17.99). This is the third vintage of this wine, and each vintage is made of a unique blend of white grapes. This vintage was made with Riesling and Gewurztraminer.  Nice aromatic nose. Green and stone fruits.  Off dry with a slight green, herbal flavour.  Light body with medium acidity and light spice to finish. Nice.

Gewurztraminer 2010 ($16.99). Pale lemon in the glass. Flowers and lychee greet your nose. High acidity with flowers,lychee and bonbon flavours.  Light body and has a nice balance of roundness with acidity in your mouth. Another nice wine!

Hatfield’s Fuse 2010 ($17.99). This is a blend of white grapes including Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Light lychee and herbal nose.  Round mouth feel with a nice balance of acidity.  Juicy fruit gum flavour.

Rose and Red Wines

Blasted Church has a wide range of reds from rose and lighter bodied Pinot Noir, up to a full bodied Bordeaux Blend.

Rose 2010 ($17.99). This rose is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Usually I expect a single varietal, like Pinot Noir or Merlot, so I was very interested to taste this rose. Very pale cherry colour. Nice strawberry aromas.  Raspberry leaf, strawberry, and capsicum flavours.  High acidity and spicy on your palate. Light body and long length.  This wine packs a punch with 14.9% alcohol, so beware as you sip this one on the patio.

Pinot Noir 2009 ($24.99). I am a Pinot Noir fan and I think that the Okanagan produces some nice Pinot Noir wines. This wine was a bit Burgundian in style. Pale cherry colour, with a smoky, earthy nose.  Between a light and medium body with more smokiness and earthiness on the palate, along with cherries.  Low tannins with medium acidity. Dry with medium length.

Blasted Church Cabernet Merlot and blue cheese

Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot ($25.99). Deep garnet in colour. Ripe, dark fruit, vanilla, capsicum and pencil lead aromas. Medium body round and soft in your mouth with juicy ripe fruits, cherries and vanilla. Also a bit on spiciness on the finish.  Long length.  This wine tastes sweet, but it is just the juiciness of the fruit. Nice.

Nothing Sacred 2008 ($39.99). I’m not sure why the name, but the label shows a dead goat with it’s legs up in the air! This is a premium Bordeaux blend comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Each parcel of fruit was processed and vinified separately.  After vinification, the wines went into their finest oak barrels and aged separately until a final blend was determined. Deep garnet in the glass. Ripe dark fruit, vanilla and dark chocolate nose. Full body with cassis, plums, and opulent vanilla flavours.  Dry with medium tannins and soft acid.  Try this wine with a steak on your barbeque this long weekend.

Artisan Cheese

To pair with several of Blasted Church’s wines were artisan cheese by The Farm House Natural Cheeses, plus an Alpindon cheese from the Kootenay’s and a  “Beddis Blue” from Moonstruck Organic Cheese on Salt Spring Island.

Alpindon cheese with Blasted Church Pinot Gris

The Alpindon cheese was paired with the Pinot Gris. This is a hard cheese, slightly creamy and salty, with a bit of crunchiness to it. A bit of pungency but still quite mild for most people. It went nicely with the pinot gris.

I checked up on this cheese via the Internet and found that it is made by the Kootenay Alpine Cheese Company in Creston, BC. They describe the Alpindon cheese as “a firm cheese carefully modeled after French Beaufort d’Alpage. Following centuries old tradition this cheese is hand-rubbed and made only with milk from summer pastures. It exhibits a smooth nut flavour, a complex finish, a rich golden interior and a dark textured rind. Additional aging concentrates its flavours, deepens its complexity, and increases the sweet crystals that develop throughout the body of the cheese.”

Variety of Cheeses from Farm House Natural Cheeses

The Farm House Natural Cheeses‘ Farm House cheddar was paired with the Chardonnnay Musque. This cheddar felt medium aged to me with some nice nuttiness, a bit of cheddar sharpness, and low in salt. It is hard for a cheddar not to pair nicely with any wine, and this one matched well. A drop of sweet chutney was added to the cheese so you had some sweet, sharp, nutty, and salty flavours to go with the Chardonnay Musque. I spoke with I believe Debra Amrein-Boyes, who is one of only twelve people in western Canada and the US who has been inducted into the prestigious French Cheese Guild, the “Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon“.  I was very interested to hear how they made one of their blue cheeses, and her description of their camembert cheese.  They are located in Agassiz, BC, so I hope to make a pilgrimage to their Fromagerie before the summer is out, see her contented cows and try more of her fabulous cheeses.

The last cheese paired was the  “Beddis Blue” from Moonstruck Organic Cheese onSalt Spring Island. Very creamy with a mild bite. A drop of honey made by bees kept on the roof of the Fairmont Waterfront hotel, was added to this blue cheese.  It was a very interesting flavour combination.  I’ve never mixed honey and blue cheese, but it works and paired nicely with the fruitiness and acidity in the Cabernet Merlot blend.

If you are a fan of bees and honey, the Fairmont Waterfront hotel does offer their guests a guided Herb Garden & Honeybee Tour. Also if you are a chocolate fan, try the hotel’s honey truffles, the “Bee’s Knees”. The truffles, created in partnership with British Columbia’s legendary chocolatier, Rogers’ Chocolates, are offered in milk and dark chocolate and feature flavour notes of butterscotch, vanilla and cinnamon.

Have a great summer, enjoying some wine and cheese on your patio!

Pairing a Loire Valley Red with a Petit Camembert in France

You know that you are having a great day when you have a chance to wander through French shops, looking for wine and cheese to pair together. My trek lead me to select a Pierre Chanau Saumur Champigny 2009 with a Petit Camembert au Lait Cru from E. Graindorge.

Getting to my room, the smell of the camembert filled the room, like freshly baked bread, but this time with a more earthy aroma.  Hunting in the kitchenette for a corkscrew, I feel like a child waiting to open his Christmas presents… And with the corkscrew being found, on to my review.

The Pierre Chanau Saumur Champigny 2009 is produced in the Loire Valley.  This wine is produced from the Cabernet Franc grape. Nice medium reddish purple in the glass.  Some leather, sour cherry, raspberry and oak aromas.  Medium body, dry with oft tannins.  Sour cherry and raspberry flavours up front, with cedar notes showing up mid palate and cherry on the finish.  Medium acidity to make the wine lively.  After letting the wine breathe in my glass, violet aroma and flavours opened up with this wine.  A nice wine to sip.  Not super complex, but not all wines need to be.

The Petit Camembert au Lait Cru by E. Graindorge came in a 150 gram round. Unwrapping the camembert there was a nice white rind.  Cutting into the cheese there were small holes in the cheese. It had a light creamy yellow interior. Quite aromati with an earthy aroma.  Taking a bite it was smooth, with earthy, mushroom, cooked corn, and nutty flavours.  Many different flavours happening at the same time.

The cheese went well with the wine.  Neither overpowered the other. The wine toned down the earthy, mushroom flavours, leaving the nuttiness and creaminess on the palate.

Here is the link if you would like to read more about E. Graindorge and their cheeses. Cheers.

Valentine’s Day, Aphrodisiacs, and Wine

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. A nice dinner with special wine and food with your significant other i’m sure would be greatly appreciated. But what wine and food to serve?

There are many foods that are purported to be an aphrodisiac:

  • oysters on the half shell,
  • asparagus,
  • cheese, and
  • chocolate.

There are more, but i’ll give you a bit of info on these and some pairings you may want to consider. Oysters are an aphrodisiac due to their shape similar to a woman’s genitals, but also because they contain zinc which which promotes well being. Try pairing oysters with some bubble. You may enjoy:

  • Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.
  • Cuillier Pere et Fils, Brut Selection Pinot Noir / Chardonnay, France. Fine bubble with green apple and pear aromas. Lemon and pear flavours. This wine was like enjoying a fresh pear. Very tasty!

The asparagus of course visually is a phallic symbol, and visual excitement can be part of being an aphrodisiac. Try pairing it with:

  • Cremaschi Furlotti Pinot Noir from Chile. A wonderful bouquet of violets. Light bodied with some acidity. The floweriness of the Pinot Noir grape is an aphrodisiac in itself.
  • Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Rose, also from Chile. This one has a bouquet of cherries, which continues on the palate. Some spiciness and a balance of acidity with sweetness.

In European culture, cheese is said by some to resemble the scent of a woman. Italian culture views cheese as an aphrodisiac, much like chocolate. Some cheeses would be a fresh goat cheese, a brie/camembert, and maybe a bit stronger cheese such as a Quebec Oka. Remember that cheese right out of the fridge has little aroma. Leave the cheese out for a few hours so that it warms up and those aphrodisiac aromas can come out. A few wines:

  • Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose from South Africa. Mulderbosch rose shows some typical cabernet flavours and aromas, but without the big tannins that one get with a red wine.
  • Amayna Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. Citrus and tropical fruit flavours with some oakiness on the bouquet due to barrel fermentation. The wine had a very round mouthfeel with just the right amount of acidity to cut through the fat in the cheese.

Chocolate contains both a sedative, which relaxes and lowers inhibitions, and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact. A red wine and/or a dessert red wine would go well here.

  • Buller Old Fine Muscat, Rutherglen, Australia (dessert wine). Medium dark amber-coloured Muscat has aromas of toffee and marmalade. This Muscat has enough body and flavour to balance with the richness of chocolate (and chocolate cake)
  • Poplar Grove Merlot, British Columbia 2005. Light garnet in colour. Cherry, cassis and leather nose. Big cherry flavour with some vanilla. Medium tannin and length.

I find that the roundness and fruitiness of Merlot and it’s softer tannins make it a nice varietal to pair with chocolate. In my opinion 72% cocoa is about the right amount of cocoa for me. When you get into the 90% range, it gets a bit gritty.

I hope you are able to find some inspiration in these suggestions. Enjoy Valentine’s Day!

A new wine and cheese experience

Every region of France has it’s own unique cheese. In Burgundy, one of those cheeses is the Epoisses de Bourgogne. This cheese has a cream cheese type texture and an orangey, wrinkled rind. The rind is washed with the marc de Bourgogne as it ripens. Marc is the left over juices after squeezing out the fermented grape skins and then distilling these juices. The cheese was semi-firm with a woody / nutty aroma. The aroma was not as strong as the previous cheeses. It had a cottage cheese flavour, with nutty flavoured rind, and a hint of saltiness. Quite nice.

The wine I paired with it was from the Rhone valley. It was the Chateau de Beaulieu, La Chatelaine, 2007, Cotes de Rhone. The blend was 60% grenache, and the remainder unknown amounts of Syrah, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Carignan. This wine was the Medaille de Bronze award from the Concours des Grands Vins de France 2008. It was a deep purple colour in the glass. There were intense aromas of meat, pepper, red and black fruits. The red and black fruit flavours continued on the palette. It was very peppery and had a long finish. Very full bodied, low tannins and good acidity. The fruit and black pepper flavours of the wine complemented the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese. It was a great pairing. Salut!

Another wine and cheese experience

While in Colmar in Alsace, ii thought I should pair a cheese with an Alsatian style Pinot gris. The wine for this pairing is the Ruhl Mann Pinot Gris 2007, tete de cuvee. To this with the help of a local cheese merchant I selected a Peladron de chevre au lait cru cevenol, a soft goat milk based cheese. The pinot gris was light bodied, straw coloured. It was off-dry, apple flavour and good acidity. The cheese was an adventure. Cheese should be taken out of the fridge and let warm up. Most people recommend waiting a few hours before eating the cheese to bring out the full flavour. There is no harm in leaving it out longer, so it stayed in my room for 24 hrs before I opened the wrapper. It was VERY aromatic. It smelled very much like the durian fruit you can get in asian supermarkets. The interior of the cheese was white and creamy and very runny. The flavour was of durian candy, which is not as intense as the aroma, and has a sweetness to it. To this very big, aromatic, creamy cheese, the acidity of the pinot gris was a great counterpoint, and made the pairing work. That being said, my next wine and cheese pairing will be with a hard cheese. Salut!